Friday, June 10, 2011

Job opening in the humanities UPDATED

Much of the email I receive - list email - is about tutoring jobs. Almost inevitably, the tutor must be a native French speaker, preferably from France. (Poor Africans, Walloons, Canadians.) I've both taught and tutored French, but am not the authentic deal, and so I delete these emails, sometimes wondering why someone who wants a 5-year-old to learn how to conjugate être cares whether the tutor had Nutrageous or pain au chocolat as an after-school snack. Sometimes picturing the scene where Alex and Simon have this French au pair to help them teach François and the other kid with a less memorable name, but it's futile, even though the au pair is by all accounts une vraie Française.

So I've been following the story, such as it is, of the GOOP founder's quest to find a tutor for her kids. "The successful applicant will be able to teach the youngsters Ancient Greek, Latin, French and even Japanese or Mandarin, on top of giving sailing and tennis lessons. They are also required to understand philosophy and enjoy painting, art, drama and chess." Oh, and the tutor must be "'youthful.'" Is that even legal to ask? Maybe in the UK?

All of this leads one to wonder several things, not least of which what's to prevent either parent from preferring the "genius" wonder-tutor (depending the gender) to the spouse. The job description sounds like tasks enough for several tutors, or one incredible BSer. The cultural requirements seem to almost ask for that, especially the way "painting" and "art" are listed separately. I suppose the mix of seemingly unrelated achievements sounds a bit like the CV of a Rhodes Scholar or similar, or at any rate someone who wouldn't have found the time along the way (ahem) to read GOOP or otherwise care who Paltrow is enough to agree to this set-up. However, it is a list of many non-marketable skills (ancient languages! philosophy! sailing!), so to the Daily Mail commenters who think someone with all these qualities already makes more... perhaps not. I'll take on French, Latin (took it in middle school, vaguely remember the teacher mentioning having taught or possibly just college-advised this very actress back in the day), and philosophy (thanks, Philosophical Perspectives!), trade (elementary) Hebrew and (very) basic conversational Flemish for "Japanese or Mandarin," running (it's a sport!) for sailing and tennis. The question is, is this considered post-doc or tenure-track? Guess it depends if they're planning a larger family.

(Meanwhile, what happened to the "Nanny" school of nannying, which involves teaching kids not unlike Gwyneth's basic common sense and how to shop at Loehmann's? Tangentially related, to whom it may concern, one of the bridal consultants on "Say Yes to the Dress" - quite possibly on "Big Bliss" - looks like, sounds like, and has the same mannerisms as one Fran Fine. Too perfect. UPDATE: It's Antonella.)


2fast4yall said...

Johann! (and François)

Miss Self-Important said...

Omg, finally a job for me! Like you, I'd have to take some time to brush up on (learn) a couple of neglected languages, and we'd have to negotiate whether "drama" might not be a better subject for the parents to expound upon, but I do play tennis and chess.

Tutotring aristocratic progeny used to be a serious career move for poor Oxford and Cambridge grads (Hobbes and Locke tutored their patrons' sons and at least Hobbes knew this many languages), so it's nice to see the form being kept alive, if not the precise content of the instruction. Also, I would enjoy receiving letters of rec from Gwyneth, in Latin.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


Thanks! How could I forget Johann?


Let's say we apply as a team. (I could once play chess, but am in no position to teach it.) They'd def. need someone else for drama (and sailing?), but I think we could handle the rest.

Withywindle said...

The relevant story is this.

Miss Self-Important said...

Well, they do after all have two children. No self-respecting Serious Parent should want any less than total attention devoted to each one, right? We could offer to split the work. I, for one, could accept a mere £30k/yr if it came with room, board, and a daily scone. This must be another great benefit of humanities training--we learn to settle for less.

X.Trapnel said...

They're merely seeking Émile's tutor; alas, he's no longer with us.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Withywindle, X. Trapnel,

Literary references much appreciated.


If the job's still open, and we both happen to be on the market, let's do it!